Canadian music artist The Weeknd dropped a music video today for his just-released single False Alarm, and it's a doozy -- a bank heist gone bloody from a gun-toting robber's first-person perspective. If you love a bleak FPS experience of unwilling hostages, shot cops and dead buddies backed by lyrics about hollow modern romance, this is the vid for you.
While it's very much in line with director Ilya Naishuller's affinity for Tarantino-level violence, it's noticeably darker than his earlier work making videos for his band, Russian rock group Biting Elbows. Vids for their two singles The Stampede and Bad Motherfucker went viral back in 2013 with their fun, kinetic first-person action. Naishullar followed it up attempting to crowdfund a feature film in his signature style, which eventually became the parkour-and-gunrunning bro violence paean Hardcore Henry, released in theaters last April.
The False Alarm video is a grimmer version of Naishuller's testosterone-fuelled style, ditching the Guy Ritchie-esque goon fights for the faux-edginess of cop murder and partner betrayal. But like the rest of his work, it feels like an FPS game made cinematic: More gimmick than immersive innovation, with the worst of the genre's depthlessness and violence.
Video game style trickling into music videos is an evolution of earlier experiments. Almost 20 years ago, The Prodigy released the music video for Smack My Bitch Up (NSFW) depicting a nightlong drug and booze bender from a first-person perspective. Along with its notorious sex and violence, the vid is remembered for its novel point of view, which hid the protagonist's identity til the very end, subverting the viewer's expectations. False Alarm, however, plays in the same toybox of immersive perspective, but it's content to send a message with all the subtlety of rotten flowers on your ex's doorstep. Modern romance indeed.